Christmas – Fertilizers to Non-Farmers?

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 10:52 AM 0 comments

Before telenovelas flooded our TV screens, there was a variation of primetime viewing: movies for Mondays, drama for Tuesdays, cartoons on Fridays (which I really loved). Sitcoms were included in the menu. Instead of tears rolling down your cheek, your laugh lines are being carved.

One of these sitcoms was 1 for 3, a story of a house won by three singles (portrayed by Vic Sotto, Charlene Gonzales, and Rosanna Roces). Rosanna’s character was an attractive yet no-brainer woman. One time, she brought home two large sacks of fertilizers. They asked her if she would do gardening or farming where she negatively answered.  They asked her further, “O, bakit ka bumili niyan (Then why did you buy those)?” Her joyful response, “Buy one – take one eh!”

What makes this hilarious was she celebrates for something she does not need. She needs not to rejoice over fertilizers when she has no plants to nurture. Considering this, aren’t a lot of people funny then? The world is full of individuals celebrating Christmas but denying the need of a Savior. These do not need Christmas.

Jesus is His Name

Matthew 1:21 says that He was born and named Jesus “for he will save his people from their sins.” There is a great need to address. Christmas is needed because there is a great need to counter the enormous gripping and condemning power of sin. The power of sin and our need of a Savior from this sin is the plant for the fertilizer Christmas.

You Do Not Need Christmas if You Deny that...
I)           You are disgustingly and massively sinful. People who think that they are doing just fine and sees not enough filth in themselves, therefore, do not need Christmas. They do not need the Savior for they can manage their own sins. They may view themselves as not good enough but not that bad also. I don’t care how good they may feel about themselves. The Bible says that to the unbelieving “nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled (Titus 1:15).” And again in Isaiah 64:6, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

II)         GOD demands perfect righteousness from you. When I say “perfect” I mean just as it means with “perfect scores” in exams. 99 over 100 is not perfect. Perfection leaves no room for the slightest forms of mistakes. GOD demands His own perfection from us (Matthew 5:48). He leaves no room for our least transgression: there is no room for a single breath of pride, none for a millisecond glance of covetousness, none for a single lying letter in a truthful novel. People who deny this demand do not need the Christmas Babe because they are not in a hopeless situation.

III)       Your failure to meet GOD’s perfection arouses His intense wrath against you. A lot of the world sees GOD as an unreliable grandfather who raises up spoiled grandchildren. Experience and reason will confirm that this type of granddads do not deserve our utmost respect. Blessed be the GOD of Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” When individuals deny this wrath, then Christmas has no good to offer for them because GOD can consider them acceptable even in their uncleanness.

IV)      There is an appointed time of serious judgment against you. In ethics, there are certain circumstances that aggravate our guilt when committing acts. I deserve greater punishment when I kick the president than when I kick a beggar. The president’s excellency will dictate that. I will gain lesser condemnation when I box a criminal than when I box a new born baby. The baby’s innocence will demand that. Then how great is the judgment of us who sin against an infinitely majestic and infinitely holy GOD! Every person will give an accounting infront of the Judge who will pronounce judgment according to every deed we have done (Revelation 20:11-15). If people think that they can run away from all their transgressions then they don’t need Christmas.

V)        Your only hope is the Baby from the manger to the cross. The virgin’s boy is not just celebrated as being a boy. He grew, taught, healed, preached, was despised, died, and resurrected. He carried all my disgusting sins, bore every drop of GOD’s wrath for you and me. The infinite pain to be inflicted upon me for an infinite time, something that I deserve, was all directed exhaustively upon Him for just a few hours so that I may gain His perfect righteousness. Now, I become acceptable to GOD because of the great Substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21). His Name is Jesus indeed!

I am a disgusting sinner who is unable to meet GOD’s perfect standards, therefore, I am only good to swallow GOD’s fiery wrath in His righteous judgment. Yet, blessed be GOD who provided the salvation that I need in Christ. I need a Savior. I need Christmas. Do you?

Death Treat -- To Die is Jackpot

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 8:45 PM 4 comments

Last Wednesday, the Grand Lotto jackpot towered an almost half a billion pesos (Php495,597,376.80 to be exact). It is the largest in Philippine lottery history. It is grand indeed that someone who hits it will be able to afford 285 Toyota Fortuners, or maybe more than 4000 Intel Core i7 MacBooks, or how about 30 condominiums in Makati, or even 1.65 square kilometers of commercial lot, enough to cover a baranggay-wide business area. But for me, I can just measure it with my salary for 4130 years (yes, years not months and in case you’re drowned, please don’t forget that we are living in 2010AD). So the next time you see a long line of lotto ticket buyers, or you hear that your Sunday School teacher has consulted a numerologist, or you notice that your pastor has changed the TV channel on Saturday night, this may perhaps explain why.

I wonder why people cluster on ticket stations and church attendance can rarely be a crowd when my Bible says in Matthew 13:44,
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells his 285 Toyota Fortuners and his 4000 Intel Core i7 MacBooks just to buy that field.
And again, Jesus commands in Mark 10:21,
You lack one thing: go, sell all your 30 condominiums in Makati and your baranggay-wide commercial lot and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
For Christians, the true jackpot is death. For Paul, to live is Christ and to die is jackpot (Phil. 1:21). To die is worth more than my salary for 4130 years multiplied by a thousand more. It is gain because it is the beginning of an unending joy-filled and pleasure-filled fellowship with the most enjoyable Being, GOD, the Author of all joys and pleasures, and with fellow GOD-treasurers.

An Unbounded Me. It takes faith by His grace for us to see death as the true jackpot. It is only by grace can we be so truly excited of heaven where we will wear our glorified bodies capable of everything except to displease GOD. No more pain, no more sufferings, no more disappointments, no more sin! We will never see GOD’s face frown but He will always be smiling for me. Oh! May His grace uphold my sanity when I see a millimeter of His smile.

An Undivided Society. We can also be so enthusiastic of heaven for it will be a community of GOD-lovers. Perfect peace, perfect harmony, perfect unity, perfect fellowship. There, we will see John Calvin and John Wesley shake hands in front of Apostle Paul. Even Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists will agree on baptism. Worship songs will be shared by the hymn writers, the gospel rockers, and the reformed rappers. I won’t worry for our things being stolen neither for our secrets being broadcasted.

An Unveiled Glory. But the pinnacle of everything is the removal of curtains that veil the glory of GOD. GOD has suppressed His breath when He gave life to Adam. He has limited His mighty hands when He held the divided sea. He repressed His voice when He thundered Mount Sinai. He submerged the fullness of His holiness when He appointed Isaiah. He concealed His true glory in human body when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. All the things that amaze us because of tremendous displays of His power and might are just glimpses of His true glory. But after His appointed time of our death, we will behold the perfections of His attributes unveiled. The display will be so exciting that we will never get bored of it even after a trillion of trillion years.

What a gain! Death is jackpot.

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From 95 Theses to Psalm 95 and Back

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 11:50 PM 0 comments

Today marks the 493rd anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 theses which sparked the Protestant Reformation. As a Methodist, when it comes to Protestantism, I can’t trace my roots without tracking through the English Reformation. The Reformation in England is somehow unique because it is a government-imposed Reformation. It happened when King Henry VIII convinced the Parliament to enact a series of statutes denying the pope any power or jurisdiction over the Church of England.

The Bible Reading Programs. The government of England had designed a program for the English people to meet twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening, for Bible reading. These reading program “forced” the people to finish reading the whole Old Testament once a year and the whole New Testament twice a year. Moreover, the whole Book of Psalms was also pressed down to fit a 30-day reading plan. Therefore, an Englishman would read the Old Testament once, the New Testament twice, and the Psalms twelve times a year.  But what tops all of them is the reading of a particular psalm before the daily morning reading fellowship: the reading of Psalm 95. That makes 365 Psalm 95s a year. What is with this specific psalm that makes it the everyday psalm?

I) The Daily Invitation
Half of the psalm (vv. 95:1-7a) shouts a call of invitation. The invitation is at v.1, “Come, let us...” and resounds at v.2, “Let us come...” and also at v.6, “Come, let us...”

A) Invitation to Cheer. The first two verses of the psalm are filled with calls to rejoice. The church is often portrayed as a placed where the boring personas cluster. Christians are pictured as peoples who walk into a narrow series of don’ts. But Christians are the only and truly rejoicing GOD-treasuring worshippers.

Three Reasons to Cheer. The psalmist David has provided at least three grounds of our celebration. (1) We should rejoice because GOD is the rock of our salvation at v.1 Who ensures our protection. (2) Verse 3 states our second reason to rejoice: that our GOD is a great God and a great King. He, therefore, assures us that everything is under his great sovereign authoritative power. (3) Thirdly, we should be joyful because our GOD has got the whole world in His hands which certifies us of His providence as illustrated by verses 4 and 5.

B) Invitation to Kneel. After the joyful attitude of the first five verses comes the call for humility. The psalmist seem to want to convey that having God’s protection, power, and providence on our side is not a warrant for pride. Instead, “let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD (v. 6).”

The Reason to Kneel.  The basis of our humility is plain: He is our Maker and our Shepherd (6b-7a). We did not form Him with our hands neither is He a fruit of our imaginations. He is our Creator. Beholding the greatness and power and wisdom and glory of this GOD should make us tremble, our knees shake, and our lips acknowledge, “Woe is me for I am ruined” as did Isaiah.

II) The Daily Caution
The second half of the psalm starting from 7b is a warning. And the warning is very urgent. The psalmist states that the call is “Today, when you hear His voice.” Hearing GOD’s Word is daily. You should hear it today and not tomorrow. It is a daily appetite that needs to be satisfied. TODAY!

The Cautionary Statuses. David, the author of the psalm, recollects the wilderness experience of his forefathers and, therefore, provides the dangerous states of those who don’t take heed to the Words of GOD. (1) He warns us of hardened hearts in verse 8. When we don’t have a daily meditation on GOD’s Words, lies keep on creeping into our hearts thus hardening our hearts to sin. We will then tend to justify our sins, make compromises, and embrace disgraceful acts that GOD hates. (2) The second warning pertains to testing GOD as in verse 9. To test GOD, like what the Israelites did, is to distrust GOD. It is to doubt what His admirable attributes can do. It is to trample on His promises and to tell Him that He appears to be not able.

The Frightful Threat. Having a hardened heart that puts GOD on the test is being threatened by a horrible fate, “They shall not enter my rest.” The rest here is not the temporal Canaan rest. When David wrote this psalm, they are already occupying the Promised Land. The rest here instead is the eternal rest being with the most enjoyable Being. However, those who insult the weightiness of the Word of GOD will be excluded from this rest. A sure mark of a genuine Christian is loving the words of GOD.

This is the everyday psalm. It should reflect the attitude of every Protestant. Its call to cheer and kneel is a call for a joyous behaviour towards Bible study, meditation, and memorization. And its warnings should exhort us to approach the Scriptures with trembling obedience. To cheer and to fear should be the heart that fuels the mind of Sola Scriptura.

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Free Books on Christmas Institute 2010

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 7:26 AM 5 comments

This morning, I have an e-mail waiting for me.

Dear Bernard,


As for your Christmas Institute request, I have good news - we will donate 130 copies of "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" and have them transported to the Manila area by our volunteer courier, Terry Plath, on December 1 or 2.  We will arrange for the two of you to connect with each other directly on how you can obtain the books.  He will be there at Makati City in Metro Manila on assignment for his employer, so he will not have much freedom to travel.  Before I share his email address, please let me know if it will be possible to meet him in the Manila area to obtain your CI books.

For now, I will wait for your reply and then we can keep working things out.

Many Blessings,

International Outreach
Desiring God

The United Methodist young people of Pangasinan Central District is so blessed to have this gift. Please join me in praying, not just for the success of the pick-up, but more importantly for the books not to be wasted. May our sovereign GOD be pleased to use these books to create hearts that treasure Christ among United Methodists and, therefore, bring renewal. Let us also pray to GOD to continually bless Ptr. John Piper, Desiring God, and Mr. Jim Harrison. This may be our only way to truly thank them.

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I am grateful for the two-day event, Palarong UPang, at our university for I was able to find extra time to take care of this blog. I had decided to invest it in reviewing the difference between John Wesley and George Whitefield on the issue of predestination that caused an immense gulf between them. I ended up with these three surveys.

Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

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Murray on Catholicity

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 4:18 PM 0 comments

This post is a survey of Iain Murray's article on the historical background of Whitefield's letter and is intended to be the third in a 3-part study:
Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

Whitefield's life and practice teach us several points on handling opposition within the Body of Christ:

I) Acknowledging the essential doctrines that bind the Church.
"Whitefield [though Anglican] linked the Evangelical movement to Puritanism; Wesley linked it to Laud, for Laud was one of the founders of the Arminian movement." (Dr. H. B. Workman, as a footnote of Murray)

No wonder, therefore, that in a letter you sent me not long since, you should tell me that no Baptist or Presbyterian writer whom you have read knew anything of the liberties of Christ. What? Neither Bunyan, Henry, Flavel, Halyburton, nor any of the New England and Scots divines? See, dear Sir, what narrow-spiritedness and want of charity arise from your principles, and then do not cry out against election any more on account of its being "destructive of meekness and love." (Whitefield to Wesley)

II) Getting rid of entanglement into unnecessary debates over secondary issues.
It is interesting to note that although Wesley's sermon was published in August 1739, Whitefield's reply is dated December 24, 1740, and was not published till early 1741.
One of the reasons, according to Murray, was
Whitefield longed to avoid an open breach and still hoped that his friend might be brought to a clearer understanding of the truth. Such sentences as the following are typical of Whitefield's attitude: "How would the cause of our common Master suffer by our raising disputes about particular points of doctrines!"
III) Confronting controversies especially when the Body is disturbed.
As the year 1740 advanced, the reports that he received from his friends like [John] Cennick and Howell Harris made it increasingly obvious that harm and divisions were being wrought by the Wesleys' insistence on their Arminian views. Wesley's pamphlet "set the nation disputing." As Harris wrote to Wesley: "You grieve God's people by your opposition to electing love; and many poor souls believe your doctrine simply because you hold it." A situation had developed in which it was imperative that Whitefield should declare his mind and do something to arrest the drift from evangelical orthodoxy.
IV) Considering GOD's glory and the Church's edification in addressing opposition.
Doctrinal differences between believers should never lead to personal antagonism. Error must be opposed even when held by fellow members of Christ, but if that opposition cannot co-exist with a true love for all saints and a longing for their spiritual prosperity then it does not glorify God nor promote the edification of the Church.

The attitude that I badly need: "But when his time is come, God will do what man cannot, namely, make us both of one mind." - Wesley to Whitefield

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Whitefield on Free Grace

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 4:11 PM 2 comments

This post is a survey of A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley and is intended to be the second in a 3-part study:
Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

Whitefield's Definition of Free Grace
[Hopefully] You will caution believers against striving to work a perfection out of their own hearts, and print another sermon the reverse of this, and entitle it "Free Grace Indeed." Free, not because free to all; but free, because God may withhold or give it to whom and when he pleases.
Even before tackling the main sermon points of Wesley, Whitefield had already pointed out three errors of Wesley: (1) tempting God by casting a lot to determine whether he should preach and print against election or not; (2) choosing a text against predestination from Romans 9, "where this doctrine is so plainly asserted;" and, (3) providing poorly definitions for "free" and "grace."

Whitefield's Seven Antitheses
I) Answer to Wesley's First Point
Hath not God, who hath appointed salvation for a certain number, appointed also the preaching of the Word as a means to bring them to it? ... And if so, how is preaching needless to them that are elected, when the gospel is designated by God himself to be the power of God unto their eternal salvation?
II) Answer to Wesley's Second Point
Were you ever sick in your life? If so, did not the bare probability or possibility of your recovering, though you knew it was unalterably fixed that you must live or die, encourage you to take physic? For how did you know but that very physic might be the means God intended to recover you by?

Just thus it is as to the doctrine of election. I know that it is unalterably fixed (one may say) that I must be damned or saved; but since I know not which for a certainty, why should I not strive, though at present in a state of nature, since I know not but this striving may be the means God has intended to bless, in order to bring me into a state of grace?

III) Answer to Wesley's Third Point
I believe they who have experienced it will agree with our 17th article (of the 39 Articles of the Church of England), that "the godly consideration of predestination, and election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing their minds to high and heavenly things, as well because it does greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God."

It [doctrine of election] has a natural tendency to rouse the soul out of its carnal security. And therefore many carnal men cry out against it. Whereas universal redemption is a notion sadly adapted to keep the soul in its lethargic sleepy condition, and therefore so many natural men admire and applaud it.

IV) Answer to Wesley's Fourth Point
Do not the elect know that the more good works they do, the greater will be their reward? And is not that encouragement enough to set them upon, and cause them to persevere in working for Jesus Christ? "Chosen . . . through sanctification of the Spirit?" (2 Thess. 2:13). Nay, is not holiness made a mark of our election by all that preach it? And how then can the doctrine of election destroy holiness?
V) Answer to Wesley's Fifth Point
It is only by the Christian revelation that we are acquainted with God's design of saving his church by the death of his Son. Yea, it is settled in the everlasting covenant that this salvation shall be applied to the elect through the knowledge and faith of him.

[Who ever thought] that the unchangeable purpose of God, that harvest should not fail, rendered the heat of the sun, or the influence of the heavenly bodies unnecessary to produce it? No more does God's absolute purpose of saving his chosen preclude the necessity of the gospel revelation.
VI) Answer to Wesley's Sixth Point
For God is no respecter of persons, upon the account of any outward condition or circumstance in life whatever; nor does the doctrine of election in the least suppose him to be so. But as the sovereign Lord of all, who is debtor to none, he has a right to do what he will with his own, and to dispense his favours to what objects he sees fit, merely at his pleasure.

For if foreknowledge signifies approbation, as it does in several parts of Scripture, then we confess that predestination and election do depend on God's foreknowledge. But if by God's foreknowledge you understand God's fore-seeing some good works done by his creatures as the foundation or reason of choosing them and therefore electing them, then we say that in this sense predestination does not any way depend on God's foreknowledge.

It may not be amiss to take notice, that if those texts, 2 Pet. 3:9 and Ezek. 33:11 — and such like — be taken in their strictest sense, then no one will be damned.

God taketh no pleasure in the death of sinners, so as to delight simply in their death; but he delights to magnify his justice, by inflicting the punishment which their iniquities have deserved.

VII) Answer to Wesley's Seventh Point
Consider whether it be not rather blasphemy to say as you do, "Christ not only died for those that are saved, but also for those that perish."
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Wesley on Predestination

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 4:02 PM 0 comments

This post is a survey of Free Grace and is intended to be the first in a 3-part study:
Part 1 - Wesley on Predestination
Part 2 - Whitefield on Free Grace
Part 3 - Murray on Catholicity

Wesley's Definition of Predestination virtue of an eternal, unchangeable, irresistible decree of God, one part of mankind are infallibly saved, and the rest infallibly damned; it being impossible that any of the former should be damned or that any of the latter should be saved.
Wesley's Seven Theses

I) It is free in all to whom it is given.
It [preaching] is needless to them that are elected; for they, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be saved. Therefore, the end of preaching -- to save should -- is void with regard to them; and it is useless to them that are not elected, for they cannot possibly be saved.
II) The doctrine of predestination is not a doctrine of God.
... if a sick man knows that he must unavoidably die, or unavoidably recover, though he knows not which, it is unreasonable for him to take any physic at all. He might justly say, (and so I have heard some speak, both in bodily sickness and in spiritual) "If I am ordained to life, I shall live; if to death, I shall live; so I need not trouble myself about it."
III. Predestination destroys the comfort of religion, the happiness of Christianity.
Full assurance of faith is the true ground of a Christian's happiness. And it does indeed imply a full assurance that all your past sins are forgiven, and that you are now a child of God. But it does not necessarily imply a full assurance of our future perseverance.

How uncomfortable a thought is this, that thousands and millions of men, without any preceding offense or fault of theirs, were unchangeably doomed to everlasting burnings!
IV. This uncomfortable doctrine also destroys our zeal for good works.
It cuts off one of the strongest motives to all acts of bodily mercy... It is needless to them that are elected; for they will infallibly be saved without it. It is useless to them that are not elected; for with or without it they will infallibly be damned; therefore you cannot consistently with your principles take any pains about their salvation. Consequently, those principles directly tend to destroy your zeal for good works; for all good works; but particularly for the greatest of all, the saving of souls from death.
V. Furthermore, the doctrine of predestination has a direct and manifest tendency to overthrow the whole Christian Revelation.
"If it be not necessary, it is not true," Now, this fundamental point you give up. For supposing that eternal, unchangeable decree, one part of mankind must be saved, though the Christian Revelation were not in being, and the other part of mankind must be damned, notwithstanding that Revelation. And what would an infidel desire more? You allow him all he asks. In making the gospel thus unnecessary to all sorts of men, you give up the whole Christian cause.
VI. And at the same time, makes that Revelation contradict itself.
Wesley used 1 Jn. 4:16 against Rom. 9:13; Psa. 114:9 against Rom. 9:15; Acts 10:34 and Rom. 2:11 against Rom. 9:16; 1 Pet. 1:2 and Rom. 8:29 against Rom. 9:11-12 (Personal Note: Wesley used very strong Calvinistic verses [erroneously?]); Rom. 10:12 against Eph. 1:4. He used Rom. 14:15, Jn. 4:42, Jn. 1:29, 1 Jn. 2:2, 1 Tim. 2:6, and Heb. 2:9 to support universal redemption. And he used Ezek. 18:3, 32, 2 Pet. 3:9, Jn. 5:40, and Matt. 23:37 against reprobation.

VII. Predestination is a doctrine full of blasphemy.
This premised, let it be observed, that this doctrine represents our blessed Lord, "Jesus Christ the righteous," "the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth," as an hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity.

It overturns both his justice, mercy, and truth; yea, it represents the most holy God as worse than the devil, as both more false, more cruel, and more unjust.
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Ten Giants When They Were 28... Like Me

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 11:16 AM 0 comments

Now, I have just turned 28. I have resolved to do a research on the fruitfulness of some of the giants who I admire when they were about 28 years old as I am.

Jonathan Edwards
When Jonathan Edwards was about 28 years old, his first published sermon was printed, the famous "God Glorified in Man's Dependence" where he encourages,
Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavour to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to exalt himself, and depend on his own power or goodness; as though from himself he must expect happiness. He is prone to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found.-- But this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone; as by trust and reliance, so by praise.
Charles Spurgeon
When Charles Spurgeon was about 28 years old, he was already working on the eight volume of his soon to be 63-volume published sermons. Volume 8 contains sermon numbers 427 to 486. Found in this volume is one of my favorite Spurgeon sermons, sermon 442, "God's Will and Man's Will" based on Romans 9:16 and Revelation 22:17.
If you were dying of thirst, you would just put your lips down and drink. Soul, do that now. Believe that Jesus Christ is able to save thee now. Trust thy soul in his hands now. No preparation is wanted. Whosoever will let him come; let him come at once and take the water of life freely. To take that water is simply to trust Christ; to repose on him; to take him to be your all in all. Oh that thou wouldest do it now! Thou are willing; God has made thee willing.
Adoniram Judson
When Adoniram Judson was about 28 years old, when he was on his third year as a missionary in Burma, he has already completed "Grammatical Notices of the Burman Language." He has also completed a Burman translation of the Gospel of Matthew and began to compile a Burman dictionary.

William Wilberforce
When William Wilberforce was about 28 years old, he met for the very first time Thomas Clarkson to whom he had a collaboration for almost fifty years. Clarkson has secured a commitment from Wilberforce to bring forward the case for abolition of slave trade in the House of Commons. He had written as a journal entry "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners (moral values)." His involvement in the abolition movement was motivated by a desire to put his Christian principles into action and to serve God in public life.

John Owen
When John Owen was about 28 years old, he published his work "The Duty of Pastors and People Distinguished" where he comments on Romans 15:16,
Ministers preaching the gospel to the conversion of souls are said to kill men’s lusts, and offer them up unto God as the fruit of their calling, as Abel brought unto him an acceptable sacrifice of the fruit of his flock; and so also in respect of divers other acts of their duty, which they perform in the name of their congregations.

John Bunyan
When John Bunyan was about 28 years old, he published his first work "Some Gospel-Truths Opened" where he writes,
There is none but he that is the true God can satisfy the justice of the true God for the breach of his holy law: but if you compare Isaiah 51:6 with Matthew 3:17, you shall find that Jesus the Son of Mary did give God a full and complete satisfaction for the breach of his holy law; therefore Jesus the Son of Mary must needs be the great and the true God.
John Calvin
When John Calvin was about 28 years old, he was already done with the first edition of his most famous work "Institutes of Christian Religion." He was already leading the Protestant city of Geneva as a professor and pastor with William Farel. Then, after a few months, they were banished from Geneva by the city council and invited back.

David Brainerd
When David Brainerd was about 28 years old, he had just one year more to finish his work GOD has entrusted him to do. GOD was already causing a great success on his missionary work to the native American Indians. Then he became very ill and stayed at Jonathan Edwards home until his death. At this age, he was so fruitful in his entries on his journal which has inspired a lot of missionaries and workers including John Wesley and the Methodist movement.

John Wesley
When John Wesley was about 28 years old, he decided to limit his expenses so that he could give more to the poor. It was recorded that when his income was 30 pounds, he only spent 28 and gave 2 to the poor. Then his income doubled so he spent 28 pounds still and gave 32 to the poor. This continued throughout his life until his income climbed over 1400 and still spent 30 pounds and gave the rest to the poor. He said that he never had over 100 pounds in his pocket in one time.

George Whitefield
When George Whitefield was about 28 years old, he was already practicing outdoor preaching for 3 years. He has already taken a preaching tour throughout New England where tens of thousands gather to hear and weep in his preaching. And for five months, he ministered in Scotland and he has helped to form the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Association.

Personal Reflection
I can never be a pinch of any of these guys. I just thank my GOD for raising such men who, though I can't be like them, can continue on inspiring me (and humiliating me at the same time). I may not be an eye or a nose or a hand like them but at least I am still part of the same Body with them in Christ.

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Have You Loved an Earthworm so Much?

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 5:27 PM 1 comments

I strongly believe that you have already seen one. A slimy, elongated, cylindrically shaped, segmented body with a generally uniform color ranging from dull pink to pale red to brown. They are usually found living in moist soil with organic materials. They burrow in soil swallowing a considerable mass of soil and digest vegetative materials while disposing the remains of the swallowed dirt.

I know how disgusting they may appear and I also know how foolish my questions may sound. However, allow me to ask these still.
  • Have you loved a worm so much that you desired to be lower than human and closer to them?
  • Have you loved a worm so much that you were willing to learn their language and lifestyle so that you may help them and instruct them of what to do?
  • Have you loved a worm so much that you were longing to truncate your arms and legs, to remove your skeletal system, and have an elastic, slippery anatomy?
  • Have you loved a worm so much that you were even absolutely cooperative to donate your heart for these creatures?
I knew no one who had. If there had been one, he should have been insane. Yet, I know someone who did worse and who is not insane.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
Here, Paul was urging the Philippians to be truly united by being truly humble. And the ultimate example of utmost humility is Christ Himself who took at least seven scandalous quantum leaps in the incarnation and crucifixion.

The Initial Position
though he was in the form of God,

First Leap Down
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Second Leap Down
but made himself nothing,

Third Leap Down
taking the form of a servant,

Fourth Leap Down
being born in the likeness of men.

Fifth Leap Down
And being found in human form, he humbled himself

Sixth Leap Down
by becoming obedient to the point of death,

Seventh Leap Down
even death on a cross.

This is a scandal. We should realize this scandal. This is worse than the scandal of a man desiring to be a worm. The distance between GOD and man is infinitely farther than the distance between man and worms. In the world of purity and holiness, GOD is infinitely more glorious than man and man is infinitely more disgusting than worms. Yet, GOD became a man.

I believe I can communicate the scandal I am referring to by this tale. May the readers believe me when I say that I am writing this with all reverence and trembling. I do. I do. I have decided to create a picture of a Pauline worm writing to a bunch of worms about their man-worm hero. And he writes,
"Have this attitude among yourselves, which you have seen in the man-worm hero, who, though he was in the form of man, did not count equality with men a thing to be grasped, but made himself bare of human privileges, taking the form of a servant of worms, being born in the likeness of worms. And being found in worm form, he became a humble worm completely different from other worms by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death of the worst criminal among worms."
If no one have loved a worm that much, then GOD's love must be beyond any human's understanding.

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Ben - Eliang
Parody of Nonoy Zu├▒iga's Doon Lang

Kung magbalot listo ang Cynthia'ng panganay
Itong Aida'y may tayong walong dangkal
Dahil mataray si Gie, magdaing ka na lang
Kapag maasim ang samyo, kay Arnel iyan

Langka man ang ilaban kay Trelly ay wala
Kakisigang kulang tiyak Manny ang una
At tanging Brenda ang may ilong na nadapa
Sana ay easy lang kayo ako ang gumawa

Noon ay kaya kong inumin ang lahat ng softdrinks
Noon ay kaya ko ni relos pilit kalasin
Noon ay kaya kong ipagsakmal lubos na ulam
Sinong 'di nakakita bagsik ni ama't ina?
Bunsoy lang

Ngunit dahil sa biyaya ay sa Diyos ko na
Ipagdarasal na maging isa ang pamilya
Ang naisin:  kay Kristo lahat magkasama
May pagsasalong wagas 'pag sasamba

Doon ay 'di na iisipin mga pananim
Doon kahit 'di igapos baka at kambing
Doon ay kaya ninyong pagmasdan kaapu-apuhan
Sana manampalataya aking ama't ina
Ben - Eliang

Doon ang nanay ko'y tatakbong ubod nang tulin
Doon ang tatay kong naghakot 'di hihingalin
Doon ang dulot ng Maykapal kaligayahan
Sana manampalataya aking ama't ina
Ben - Eliang

Sana kay Kristo sumamba aking ama't ina
Ben - Eliang

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Money - The Great Spiritual Health Evaluator

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 6:55 AM 2 comments

Last Friday, July 17, I was invited by the youth fellowship of San Carlos City - United Methodist Church (to which I used to belong before accepting to pastor Dorongan-Punta UMC) to give a short talk in one of their activities which they call Com-Com (Communicating to the Saints My Communion with God).Their theme was "My Need of Poverty" which aims to confront a materialistic lifestyle and promote a simplicity of living. It is based on Proverbs 30:7-9:
I ask you, God, to let me have two things before I die: keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much food as I need.
If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace on my God.
Randy Alcorn, in his book The Treasure Principle, reveals that the number of Bible verses committed to money and possessions (2,350 verses) is larger than the verses on prayer and faith combined, larger than the number of verses about heaven and hell. Most probably, this is because there is an intimate connection between our attitude towards money and our true spiritual condition. Therefore, my message was "Money as a Great Spiritual Health Evaluator" and the following were my main points:

  1. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are wise or foolish (Luke 12:16-21).
  2. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are confident or uncertain of our message (Heb. 13:5-6).
  3. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are thankful or not (Ecc. 5:10)
  4. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are truly repentant or not (Luke 3:11-14).
  5. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are having lasting or shallow joy (Phil. 4:10-14).
  6. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are saved or not (Luke 19:8-10).
  7. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are obedient or disobedient (Matt. 19:16-23).
  8. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are serious or not on godliness (1 Tim. 6:6-10).
  9. Our attitude towards money and earthly treasures reflects whether we are maintaining GOD as our single passion or not (Matt. 6:19-21).

John Piper has also written an interesting chapter, Money: The Currency of Christian Hedonism, in his book Desiring God.

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The Unpopular Phinehasic Covenant

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 9:41 AM 1 comments

When it comes to covenants, our tongues speedily speak of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic covenants. But allow me to talk about a lesser known covenant. It is really unpopular for I am not aware whether it has a name. Let me label it for now as the Phinehasic covenant and it is found in Numbers 25:11-13. GOD speaking,
Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.'
Perhaps, one of the reasons of the unpopularity of this story is the uneasiness of retelling it (Read Num. 25 here). The Israelites were protected from being cursed by Balaam but they willingly embraced what Balaam's cursing could not do - being enemies of the Most High GOD. A great number of them, including its leaders, had a dive into a disgusting mixture of immorality, idolatry, and blasphemy resulting to GOD's furious anger exhibited in a plague. And while the unparticipating were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting, a Simeonite prince came and brought a Midianite princess with their sexual immoralities and blasphemies (for it is linked to Baal-Peor worship) in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation. "When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them" (vv.7,8).

There at least three features of Phinehas that the church of today needs:

His Zeal for GOD
The blessing of perpetual peace and perpetual priesthood that was bestowed upon Phinehas was centrally "because he was jealous for his God." He feels the jealousy that his very precious GOD feels. It was this zeal for GOD that urged him to do more than just weep (while everybody else, including Moses, was left immobile). It was this zeal for GOD that pushed him to arise and grab a spear from someone else's hand. It was this zeal for GOD that drove him to thrust and single-mindedly perform the judgment. It was his zeal for GOD.

His Compassion for the Congregation
I believe that his zeal for GOD was intertwined with his compassion for the congregation. He "made atonement for the people of Israel." He was aware of the damage being caused by the whoredoms of Israel. He had seen how thousands were being plagued (v.9). He was hearing the mournings of the people. He knew that carrying out the discipline was the most loving act he could do for the assembly. How great is the need of the church to see the compassion behind discipline!

His Impartiality for Judgment
Verses 14 and 15 reveal how renowned are the slain pair. They were not just unbranded individuals. They were prince and princess, a pair of future leaders. However, their being prominent did not move Phinehas from performing his divine task of disciplining. On the contrary, Phinehas could have even realized the greater damage that their offense could cause because of their prominence. Impartiality was needed. Phinehas was needed.

May the LORD be pleased to fashion more Phinehas hearts in the church today.

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The Birthday Cake I Won't Give to Rizal

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 2:04 PM 2 comments

Today, June 19, is known to Filipinos to be the day when Jose Rizal was born. I also thank the sovereign GOD for using such a genius for me to enjoy His graces as a free man. However, fewer Filipinos know that on this same day, another hero was born: Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

I did a quick comparative study on the lives of Spurgeon and Rizal and here are some interesting facts:
  • When Rizal was born in 1861, Spurgeon was already preaching to the largest indoor crowd with 23,654 at Crystal Palace, London and the Metropolitan Tabernacle (with seating for approximately 5,600) was opened. Spurgeon then was about my age, 27 years old. Wow!
  • When Rizal was 15 years old, he received his Bachelor of Arts with the highest honors from Ateneo de Manila. By the same age, Spurgeon won in a writing contest for his first book, the 295-page Popery Unmasked.
  • By the age when Rizal joined the poetical competition for Indians and Mestizos and wrote the poem To the Philippine Youth, Spurgeon was converted to Christ and joined a Baptist church in Cambridge.
  • Jose Rizal was 31 years old when he organized a mutual aid economic society: La Liga Filipina. Charles Spurgeon was 31 years old when he organized a monthly magazine: The Sword and the Trowel.
  • The two were of the same age (35 years old) when Rizal wrote the poem My Last Farewell and Spurgeon released the first volume of The Treasury of David.
  • When Spurgeon's The Treasury of David was completed in 1885, Rizal received his degree of Licentiate in Medicine with honors from Central University of Madrid.
  • By the time that Rizal's Noli Me Tangere was finished in Berlin, Spurgeon's crash with the Downgrade Controversy has just begun in 1887.
  • Jose Rizal was editing Morga’s 1609 Philippine History as he was studying in the British museum in London when Spurgeon was voted to censure by the Baptist Union in 1888. (I wonder if Rizal somehow heard about Spurgeon.)
  • In 1892, Rizal was deported to Dapitan while Spurgeon's body was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.
Now, let me give at least three points why I am giving a larger birthday cake to Spurgeon over against our national hero.

I) Life's Combat: Perpetual Death Over Temporal Injustice
Rizal has indeed offered his life for a noble cause, for a fight against the injustices of Spain. However, Spurgeon saw beyond temporal injustices: the need of man to flee from God's justice in His wrath against wicked men and flee towards God's justice in His love by offering His Son for men's sins. Quoting Spurgeon,
If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

II) Life's Conclusion: "Come into the Holiest of All" Over "Mi Ultimo Adios"
In his last poem, Rizal bids farewell from the objects of all his labors.
Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed,
Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost,
With gladness I give you my Life, sad and repressed;
And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best,
I would still give it to you for your welfare at most.
While in the closing statements of his Autobiography, Spurgeon states his excitement of falling into the embrace of the Object of all his labors,
The vista of a praiseful life will never close, but continue throughout eternity. From psalm to psalm, from hallelujah to hallelujah, we will ascend the hill of the Lord, until we come into the Holiest of all, where, with veiled faces, we will bow before the Divine Majesty in the bliss of endless adoration. Throughout this year may the Lord be with you! Amen.

III) Life's Cause: Eternity Over Momentary
The main differences between the two, perhaps, was that Spurgeon understood better what the apostle Paul had talked about in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18,
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
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By "sovereign grace" I mean that GOD is in perfect control over all things including things that pertain to salvation. This implies that if a man is saved, it is solely because GOD sovereignly predetermined that he would receive a special grace, the saving grace. And by "Wesleyan Quadrilateral" I refer to the belief of Wesley as recorded in the United Methodist Book of Discipline that "the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason." In this post, therefore, I aim to derive my theological affirmation on sovereign grace using the Quadrilateral.

Sovereign Grace and Scripture

I have refrained to give an exhaustive list of Scripture references dealing on sovereign grace (which may already be found somewhere else) but instead decided to use verses that I have been using for some time now.

... for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER." (Rom 9:11-12)

For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (Rom. 9:15-16)

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (Rom. 9:18)

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. (John 15:16)

... just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. (Eph. 1:4,5)

Sovereign Grace and Tradition

The Book of Discipline states that "Wesley drew on Christian tradition, in particular the Patristic writings, the ecumenical creeds, the teachings of the Reformers..." It will be best, then, for me to also draw from these.
"Therefore, to be drawn to Christ by the Father, and to hear and learn of the Father in order to come to Christ, is nothing else than to receive from the Father the gift by which to believe in Christ." - Augustine, On the Predestination of the Saints

"Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour... " Article XVII, Of Predestination and Election, Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England
(I have chosen the Thirty-Nine Articles though it is not an "ecumenical creed" for the reason that the Book of Discipline teaches "Wesley put forth no summary of biblical revelation for the British Methodists because the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England were already available.")
"How can they merit that which is already theirs and is prepared for them before they are born? ... It is settled then that merit is not proved from reward, at any rate in the Scriptures; and also that free choice is not proved from merit." Martin Luther commenting on Matt. 25:34
Sovereign Grace and Experience

I believe that all of us always acknowledge God's sovereignty over salvation. Our personal experiences on evangelism and prayer for lost souls will testify to this. No one will ever pray, "Lord, grant them repentance and the knowledge of the truth that they may escape from the snare of the devil" (2 Tim. 2:25-26) unless he confesses that it is GOD who sovereignly saves. John Piper writes,
"The warrant for prayer is that God may break in and change things - including the human heart. He can turn the will around. 'Hallowed be thy name' means: cause people to hallow your name. 'May your word run and be glorified' means: cause hearts to be opened to the gospel."
Even John Wesley had included hymns in his "A Collection of Hymns" which also speak of this experience. One is titled "LORD, I Despair Myself to Heal"
LORD, I despair myself to heal:
I see my sin, but cannot feel;
I cannot, till thy Spirit blow,
And bid the obedient waters flow.

Sovereign Grace and Reason

Have you ever wondered how many were born on the same day that you were born? If the statistics are right, there are more than 350,000 who were born on September 3, 1982 (me included). Do you also know how many belong to the unevangelized, unreached people? If the statistics are again right, there are still 40.7% of the world population which belongs to the unreached groups.

Why do I ask these? Because these numbers imply that when I was born, I was placed in a gospel-open family with believing siblings owning multiple Bibles singing Christian songs in a community with a number of churches and pastors very much available to teach me about GOD, Christ, and my need of salvation. WHILE around 143,000 who were born on the very same day were placed in a community where they will spend 75 years or so of their lives without hearing about Christ.

All I can do is to thank and glorify GOD in His sovereignty for placing me where His sovereign grace operates.

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GOD is the Most Self-Centered Being

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 8:46 AM 0 comments

Yes, I know that it is somewhat harsh. By the title, I mean that GOD is the greatest GOD-worshipper and the most GOD-centered Being that we will ever know. And that His GOD-centeredness is His ultimate and highest expression of His unconditional selfless love for us. 

GOD's Glory is the Center of the Creation

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:36)

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Col. 1:16)

I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made. (Isa. 43:6,7)

GOD's Glory is the Center of the Incarnation

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." (Lk. 2:12-14)

GOD's Glory is the Center of the Cross

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed. (Rom. 3:23-25)

So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night. Therefore when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." (Jn. 13:30,31)

"I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." (Jn 17:4,5)

GOD's Glory is the Center of the Second Coming

When He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed--for our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thes. 1:10)

GOD is passionate for His own glory. GOD is greatly GOD-centered. If He is not, then He is idolatrous. May it never be!

Besides, when Someone who is full of beauty, full of power, full of perfections, full of grace, full of goodness, and full of righteousness refrains from displaying His glory to me - it means that He doesn't like me nor love me. Therefore, GOD revealing Himself in His glory, His being God-centered, is the ultimate expression of His selfless love for us. GOD is the only Being who is not sinning by being Self-centered, but rather He is exhibiting the highest good in being so.

"True saints have their minds, in the first place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and amiable nature of the things of God. And this is the spring of all their delights, and the cream of all their pleasures." - Jonathan Edwards
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Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

The Love that GOD Hates
Love for the world is a love that GOD hates. Breakup with the world is something that we all need. This world is characterized by three things:
    1) the lust of the flesh,
    2) the lust of the eyes, and;
    3) the boastful pride of life.
The first two lusts pertain to our cravings for what WE DON'T HAVE, lusts that are either (1) our body craves to feel and experience or (2) our eyes crave to wallow into. And the third one pertains to our bragging of what WE HAVE.

Reasons for Us to Hate this Love
  1. Because loving the world means loving NOT the Father. Our heart's channel is too narrow that it can only have a single love to give. It is either loving GOD or not loving Him. Anything that is not GOD is a potential rival of GOD.
  2. Because loving the world is a sure lost. We don't want to risk our lives on a security which is surely breachable. We don't want to establish a business that is surely bankrupt. We don't want a politician who is surely corrupted. Well, the world is passing away. It is surely temporary.
  3. Because loving the world prevents obedience. Loving this world is contrasted by doing the will of GOD. This implies that the root of our every disobedience is our lust for what we don't have and our pride for what we have.
When We Don't Have
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. (Psalm 73:25)

When We Have
For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Cor. 4:7)

"He loves thee too little who loves anything together with thee which he loves not for thy sake."
- Saint Augustine -

The Search for My Own John and Charles

Posted by Bernard Rosario On 11:25 PM 0 comments

This post will not do a four-in-a-row for United Methodism, three consecutive Wesleyan topics are enough. Now, I am not referring to the Wesleys, John and Charles. To whom I am referring to are John Owen and Charles Spurgeon.

John Owen (1616 - 1683)
The Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals describes John Owen as a man who "was without doubt not only the greatest theologian of the English Puritan movement but also one of the greatest European Reformed theologians of his day, and quite possibly possessed the finest theological mind that England ever produced."

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)
The Prince of Preachers is rightly labeled so for he preached over 600 times before he was 20 years old, his sermons sold about 20,000 copies a week, these sermons were translated into 20 languages, they fill 63 volumes. It was said that he reads six of the most substantial books a week and can remember what he read and where to find it. He also wrote about 150 books of his own like The Treasury of David, All of Grace, Around the Wicket Gate, and Commenting on Commentaries.

John's Conversion
In his book Contending for our All, John Piper relates Owen's conversion, "When Owen was 26 years old he went with his cousin to hear the famous Presbyterian, Edmund Calamy at St. Mary's Church Aldermanbury. But it turned out Calamy could not preach and a country preacher took his place. Owen's cousin wanted to leave. But something held Owen to his seat. The simple preacher took as his text Matthew 8:26, 'Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?' It was God's appointed word and appointed time for Owen's awakening. His doubts and fears and worries as to whether he was truly born anew by the Holy Spirit were gone. He felt himself liberated and adopted as a Son of God."

Charles' Conversion
Spurgeon, recounting his conversion on a snowy Sunday morning, "When I could go no further, I turned down a court and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there might be a dozen or fifteen people. The minister did not come that morning: snowed up, I suppose. A poor man, a shoemaker, a tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had nothing else to say. The text was, 'Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.' He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter... Then he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist can, 'Young man, look to Jesus Christ.' There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that moment and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the Precious Blood of Christ."

My Search
Owen and Spurgeon became GOD's giants. They are indeed giants. But what inspires me enormously is that both of them were fruits of the ministries of unnamed preachers. Giants as they are yet they are indebted to ministers whose names only heaven knows.

I cannot be even a pinch of Spurgeon and be a Prince of Preachers. I cannot be a nip of Owen and be the greatest theologian. But I can be an unnamed preacher history will forget who can humbly serve GOD in His raising up of Johns and Charleses. May GOD be pleased to preserve me to be faithful and enable me to find a young John or a young Charles.

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In an essay titled American Methodists on Calvinism and Presbyterianism, the distinguished professor of Church History at Candler School of Theology, Emory University (a United Methodist Seminary), Russell E. Richey, wrote

The union of 1968, bringing together Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches made the Reformed tradition a constitutive part of United Methodism. Our doctrinal standards now include the EUB 'Confession of Faith,' our theological heritage embraces the Reformed witness of Otterbein and the United Brethren, and through the EUB story United Methodists acquired Calvinist roots. Whitefield again looks increasingly like a full member of the family.

These words turned my whispers into shouts. They had broken me free from the small box of being a silent United Methodist with Calvinistic convictions, from the chaining fear of being disassociated, into a bold proclaimer of the doctrines of grace.

What follows are portions from the Book of Discipline of UMC which are major havens, places of safety, for a Calvinist like me inside this generally Wesleyan church.

From Section 1 - Our Doctrinal Heritage

Although Wesley shared with many other Christians a belief in grace, justification, assurance, and sanctification, he combined them in a powerful manner to create distinctive emphases for living the full Christian life. The Evangelical United Brethren tradition, particularly as expressed by Phillip William Otterbein from a Reformed background, gave similar distinctive emphases.

The distinctive Wesleyan emphases "for living the full Christian life" can be emphasized in Calvinistic background.

From Section 2 - Our Doctrinal History

The unfolding of doctrinal concerns among Jacob Albright's Evangelical Association and Phillip William Otterbein's United Brethren in Christ roughly parallels Methodist developments. Differences emerged largely from differing ecclesiastical traditions brought from Germany and Holland, together with the modified Calvinism of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Here, the Book of Discipline, acknowledges that the EUB has its roots to be traced with "modified Calvinism of the Heidelberg Catechism." Heidelberg Catechism is one of the most influential Calvinistic catechisms.

From Section 3 - Our Doctrinal Standards

Article VII—Sin and Free Will
We believe man is fallen from righteousness and, apart from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, is destitute of holiness and inclined to evil. Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. In his own strength, without divine grace, man cannot do good works pleasing and acceptable to God. We believe, however, man influenced and empowered by the Holy Spirit is responsible in freedom to exercise his will for good.

Article IX—Justification and Regeneration
We believe regeneration is the renewal of man in righteousness through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are made partakers of the divine nature and experience newness of life. By this new birth the believer becomes reconciled to God and is enabled to serve him with the will and the affections.

These may not seem to be a Calvinistic haven, at first, but if it is remembered that these should be interpreted using the lens of the Heidelberg Catechism, then, its Reformed meaning is obviously established. And these are protected by

In the Plan of Union for The United Methodist Church, the preface to the Methodist Articles of Religion and the Evangelical United Brethren Confession of Faith explains that both were accepted as doctrinal standards for the new church.


It will be best to consider that Methodism started not as a theological movement. It started as a lifestyle movement focusing on Bible study and a methodical approach to scriptures and Christian living. They were familiarized to communion, fasting, abstinence, and visitation of the sick and poor. Therefore, just as a recommendation of a UMC pastor, it is possible to embrace the scholarship of John Calvin while maintaining the piety and passion of John Wesley. The two Johns can indeed shake hands. Will you shake hands with me?

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Let me first state my agreement with Ptr. John MacArthur when he wrote "The seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 were actual existing churches when John wrote. But while not precisely duplicated, they also represent the types of churches that are generally present throughout the entire church age." Therefore I invite you to try to evaluate your church's type following the seven categories:

1) Love-Grew-Cold (Ephesus)
Commended for (2:2–3, 6):
  • deeds, toil, and perseverance
  • healthy judgment againts false teachings and teachers
  • hatred for antinomians
Rebuked for (2:4):
  • diminishing passion for GOD
2) Persecuted (Smyrna)
Commended for (2:9):
  • staying firm amidst tribulation, poverty and blasphemy
Rebuked for:
  • nothing (Wow!)
3) Worldly (Pergamum)
Commended for (2:13):
  • maintaining their faith despite difficult circumstances including death
Rebuked for (2:14–15):
  • mixing Christianity with worldly systems (as paganism)
  • some abuse liberty and embrace antinomianism (Nicolaitans)
4) Sin-Tolerating (Thyatira)
Commended for (2:19):
  • growing deeds of love, faith, service, and perseverance
Rebuked for (2:20–23):
  • tolerating a false teacher, a false teaching, and immoral practices inside
5) Dead (Sardis)
Commended for (3:4):
  • some who maintain their purity
Rebuked for (3:1d, 2b):
  • departing from the Source of spiritual life and from being a channel of spiritual life
6) Faithful (Philadelphia)
Commended for (3:8–11a):
  • though small in numbers, they have a powerful impact in the community for being faithful to GOD and to His Word
Rebuked for:
  • nothing (Wow! And wow!)
7) Lukewarm (Laodicea)
Commended for:
  • nothing (What?)
Rebuked for (3:15–17):
  • being lukewarm, neither are they genuinely saved (hot) nor are they rejecting the gospel (cold)
  • being arrogant and proud
  • being spiritually wretched, poor, and blind
How About the UMC?

Let me, then, diagnose my church, the United Methodist Church, as I observe its worship and practices here at our conference. I am confident yet sad to admit that my church does not fall on the unrebuked churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia. It is neither persecuted nor faithful. I can't even classify it under the passionless Ephesus. Never do I see a healthy discernment against false teachers and false teachings (false teachers are actually revered oftentimes). These, therefore, leave four feasible choices: Worldly, Sin-Tolerating, Dead, Lukewarm. Did I just describe my church with four adjectives?

Let me, therefore, proceed on exploring the commands given to these four churches. I assume that these are the same commands that my church ought to take heed to:
  • Commandment to Pergamum (2:16)
    "repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war"
  • Commandment to Thyatira (2:24–25)
    "the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this [false] teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come."
  • Commandment to Sardis (3:2a, 3)
"Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die…. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent."
  • Commandment to Laodicea (3:18–20)
"be zealous and repent"

Oh, GOD, please be merciful and gracious to the United Methodist Church. May You, in Your sovereignty, be pleased to send renewal, reformation, and revival.

I have borrowed a lot from MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11.

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